I’m walking to valet to get my car after having lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel and someone calls, ‘Joe!’ I turn and an impossibly handsome man is there, and he offers his hand, ‘Brad Johnson.’
It hits me.
Brad is an actor and I didn’t recognize him at first since I hadn’t seen him for twenty years, when I had used him in a Busch commercial.
The story is interesting. I had cast the lead for the spot in Hollywood, something I had almost never done in the past, preferring real cowboys. I think the agency had been getting in trouble with SAG because I used many real people that had to be Taft Hartleyed and it caused a lot of paperwork and litigation. The Screen Actors Guild demanded reporting of any non-SAG performer, plus reasons. It was important to me that the guys looked real when they did their thing, but I think I got soft when the agency complained about the continuing SAG issues (that to me were non-issues). We were filming at a spectacular ranch in Jackson Hole, and the spot didn’t need a cowboy with skills as it involved working on the roof of a barn, or something like that.
The Hollywood guy wasn’t working out in any way, so I went over and looked at all the background players and spotted Brad. I asked him to say a line. He did and he became the lead in the spot. Brad was a rodeo cowboy and Austin and I used to make jokes about the real cowboys dealing with the Hollywood cowboys. We hoped that Brad wouldn’t renege, but he did the job and made more money from the spot than he would have working the rodeo circuit for a year or so.
I never found out how Brad made it to Hollywood, but soon after, I saw that he was a lead in the Steven Spielberg film, ALWAYS. Maybe an agent saw him in the spot. Brad was insanely handsome. He had been compared to John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and did a few western movies. He never became the next Clint, but he’s had a solid career working steadily since the day.
I have no idea what happened to the Hollywood guy.